You can file this one under “Questions that are rarely asked.” The authors are Bauman, Gale, and Milton and the subtitle is Cross sectional study of political affiliation and physical activity. It seems, in fact, that the armchair socialists are up out of their chairs:
Objective To examine the validity of the concept of left wing “armchair socialists” and whether they sit more and move less than their right wing and centrist counterparts.
Design Secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data from 32 European countries.
Setting The study emanated from the authors’ sit-stand desks (rather than from their armchairs).
Participants Total of 29 193 European adults, of whom 1985 were left wing, 1902 right wing, 17 657 political centrists, and 7649 politically uncommitted.
Main outcome measures Self-reported political affiliation, physical activity, and total daily sitting time.
Methods Linear models were used to examine the relation between physical activity, sitting time, and reported political affiliation.
Results The findings refute the existence of an “armchair socialist”; people at the extremes of both ends of the political spectrum were more physically active, with the right wing reporting 62.2 more weekly minutes of physical activity (95% confidence interval 23.9 to 100.5), and the left wing 57.8 more minutes (20.6 to 95.1) than those in the political centre. People with right wing political affiliations reported 12.8 minutes less time sitting a day (3.8 to 21.9) than the centrists. It is those sitting in the middle (politically) that are moving less, and possibly sitting more, both on the fence and elsewhere, making them a defined at-risk group.
Conclusions There is little evidence to support the notion of armchair socialists, as they are more active than the mainstream in the political centre. Encouraging centrists to adopt stronger political views may be an innovative approach to increasing their physical activity, potentially benefiting population health.
The full paper is here, and for the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.